SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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For Immediate Release

March 1, 2013

SAGE Files a Friend-of-the-Court Brief in Support of Edie Windsor's Supreme Court DOMA Challenge

American Society on Aging, National Hispanic Council on Aging, and other leading aging organizations join SAGE brief filed in support of 83-year-old lesbian’s challenge to discrimination against married same-sex couples.

[New York, NY] Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) today filed a brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Edie Windsor's constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). SAGE’s brief outlines the ways in which LGBT elders are especially hurt by discrimination against same-sex couples as embodied in DOMA.  SAGE is joined in the brief by the American Society on Aging, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, National Senior Citizens Law Center, and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. Windsor, an 83 year-old lesbian, is a longtime SAGE member and volunteer leader, and the recipient of a SAGE Lifetime Achievement Award.   

“SAGE is proud to stand with Edie as she takes our community’s fight for marriage equality all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "Edie paid a heavy price for our government’s discrimination after losing her beloved Thea; fortunately she had the courage to take on this battle on behalf of all same-sex couples. Lesbian and gay couples who are elders are especially hard hit by this discrimination, and therefore have a big stake in the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s only fitting that 83-year-old Edie Windsor is their leader.” 

Windsor and her spouse Thea Spyer were a committed couple who got engaged in 1967 and were finally able to legally marry 40 years later. When Spyer passed away after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, Windsor was forced to pay a large estate tax that she would not have had to pay had she been married to a man. Windsor sued the federal government for failing to recognize her marriage.

Windsor’s case highlights the real harms that DOMA causes legally married older same-sex couples. LGBT elders are less financially secure than American elders as a whole, and this lack of financial security has serious impacts on their mental and physical health. Many LGBT elders, like many of their heterosexual peers, rely on federally provided benefits, programs and protections to help ease their financial burdens. Many of these federal benefits, from Social Security to Medicare, are founded on the presumption of marriage, yet DOMA denies access to these benefits even to legally married same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court will hear United States v. Windsor on March 27, a day after hearing a case challenging California’s Proposition 8. Windsor is represented by attorneys from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; the American Civil Liberties Union; the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.

SAGE is among more than 40 groups that have filed briefs in support of Windsor, including religious leaders from a range of denominations, former military leaders and current members of the military, members of Congress, the American Psychological Association and other mental and medical health associations, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, CEOs from more than 280 leading businesses, former U.S. government officials, and experts in history, family law, and family and child welfare law.

A full list of parties filing briefs can be found here:  and

For more information on this case, please visit and

For more information on LGBT aging issues, visit

SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at

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